Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Purple sweet potato chiffon cake

For a while now I’ve been trying to figure out how to make desserts with purple sweet potatoes without having the desserts turn a dull gray or even sometimes a dark green.

I simply couldn’t figure it out. I scoured the internet for answers, read the posts and comments on the purple sweet potato cakes I saw on other food blogs, and came up with nothing.

Well this weekend I found the answer. Sort of. I believe I was using the wrong kind of purple sweet potato. In all the food blog posts I read, the purple sweet potatoes were thin and the skin had a purplish/pink hue to it. The purple sweet potatoes I knew of and buy from Ranch 99 and Zion market have a white/gray skin and are rounder and thicker.

This weekend while shopping at Nijiya, I came across japanese Okinawan purple sweet potatoes. They were thin and the skin had a dark pinkish/purple hue. They resembled the ones I saw on the posts, so I bought a few to test them out.

These are the ones I bought this weekend. Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of the white/gray skin ones but you can view a picture here.

Sure enough, these purple potatoes maintained a pretty color when mixed into my cake batter. They did lose their vibrant purple color, but they turned a pretty pink, like the cakes I saw on other posts, rather than a dull gray.

I’m not sure what type of purple sweet potato I was using before. I tried looking it up, but I didn’t find any answers. Even more confusing, when I looked up images of okinawan sweet potatoes, I found images of the white/gray skin ones I had been using previously.

Other than the appearance, I noticed some other slight differences between the two potatoes. When you cut them open, they both are purple inside and when steamed, they become an even more vibrant purple. However, the white/gray skinned potato is starchier and sweeter compared to the skinny ones.

For this chiffon cake, I left little bits of purple sweet potato in the batter, which made the cake retain more of a sweet potato flavor. Next time I think I will completely puree the potatoes so I have just a pink cake.

This cake came out lovely. It was probably the most perfect chiffon cake I’ve made to date. Sometimes the cakes will get a little stuck and not come out easily. Or sometimes they are slightly overbaked. This one was perfect. Baked just the right amount of time and it slid out of the pan quite easily and I didn’t lose any of the cake in the pan. I used this Wilton Pan.

It was so light and soft and the perfect amount of sweetness. I only wish this cake wasn’t so tiny. I devoured about half of it myself in one sitting!

I used a recipe I found on Little House and followed it exactly, except for the fact that I didn’t completely blend the sweet potato in a food processor. Instead, after I steamed it, I just used a whisk to mash it, leaving little lumps. Usually I make some tweaks to a recipe, but this one was perfect. You can view the recipe here.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Scallion Pancakes

With Chinese New Year coming up this week, my family  made some chinese dishes this weekend to do some early celebration.

We’ve made scallion/green onion pancakes before, but we’ve been working on trying to perfect it.  The ideal pancake is very thin, but contains many layers that are crispy and doughy at the same time.

One thing we did differently this time was to knead the dough in my stand mixer, rather than kneading by hand. I think this created a more elastic dough. I didn’t take any step by step photos but you can view the ones from our first attempt.

Green Onion Pancakes (Adapted from Gaga in the Kitchen)

Makes approx 5 pancakes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups All purpose flour
  • 1 cups boiling water
  • Oil (vegetable and sesame oil)
  • Salt
  • 1  cup green onions (diced)
  • Directions

    1. Pour flour and water into food processor or stand mixer and knead for a few minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour.  If too dry, add a little more water. We kneaded our dough for about 10 minutes.

    2. Take a small piece of dough (about the size of your fist) and
    roll it out as thin as possible. The shape doesn’t matter.

    3. Drizzle some oil and rub it in with your hands so that the entire
    surface is lightly covered, but there are no pools of oil in any one
    spot.  We used about a 4:1 ratio of vegetable oil to sesame oil.  If you don’t want sesame oil you can use just vegetable oil. I would not recommend using too much sesame oil because it has a very strong flavor. Don’t be stingy on the oil or your pancakes will be too dry.  Make sure there is a nice thin layer on each one, and make sure it is spread across the whole dough.

    4. Sprinkle some salt evenly across the dough. Then sprinkle on the diced green onions. It’s up to your personal preference how much you like.

    5. Roll the dough into a long rope. It’s okay if oil and onions squish out the sides. Coil that rope into a circle.

    6. Flatten the circle with your hand and then use rolling pin to roll out the pancake and thin it to your desired thickness. Ours we about 1/4 inch thick.

    7. In a pan, heat up a bit of oil over medium/low heat. Put your pancake on heated pan and let it cook until golden brown, and then flip to crisp the
    other side. Serve immediately.

    Friday, January 28, 2011

    Green tea cake

    Can you guess what this is? It’s supposed to be a castella cake (a Japanese sponge cake). Obviously it isn’t. My second attempt at making castella cake came out even worse than my first.

    The cake came out really dense. It still tastes good, but it is very dense and sort of chewy. My previous attempt at castella cake didn’t come out right either. The first one was more like a pound cake. On this attempt, I tried using bread flour because I saw a lot of other recipes had called for bread flour. I think this is what made the cake even more dense. This cake looks more like mochi than like cake.

    I’ve seen other castella recipes but they require more eggs and more time. I was trying to avoid that, but I guess I will have to try a different recipe next time.

    The recipe I used can be found here. My tweaks were using bread flour and adding 2 tbsp of matcha powder. Does anyone have any good castella cake recipe recommendations?